Jul 18, 2022 - News

Dangerous heat to continue throughout summer

Illustration of a fan blowing on the sun.
Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

Extreme heat of the past few weeks has leveled off. But thanks in part to La Niña, dangerous — and potentially deadly — heat will continue throughout the summer.

What's happening: The first six months of 2022 are Atlanta's fourth hottest on record, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association.

  • The city broke and tied records for heat in mid-June, according to the AJC.

Why it matters: This year's extra-hot temperatures are concerning because hospitals might strain from demand, the Georgia Department of Public Health noted last month as a heat wave smothered the state.

By the numbers: DPH reported 52 health-related deaths occurred in 2020, the latest year data is available. That's the highest number since 2010, when 54 fatalities were documented.

  • Thousands of people visit Georgia emergency rooms for heat-related issues every year, and hundreds spend time in the hospital.

Go deeper: Heat-related illness develops when the body can't sufficiently cool down or when a person's temperature exceeds 106 degrees Fahrenheit — a point at which organs can shut down and people can become permanently disabled, Axios' Arielle Dreher reports.

  • From 2018 to 2020, 3,066 people died from heat-related causes in the United States, according to the CDC, with the highest toll among persons aged 55 and older.
  • Children will experience 35 times more life-threatening extreme heat events than people born about 60 years ago, according to research published this year that tracked heat exposure and emergency department visits.
  • Pregnant women exposed to heat for extended periods are also at increased risk for miscarriages, premature births and other complications, an analysis in the British Medical Journal found.

The big picture: Atlantans are seeing more days and nights — when bodies usually have a chance to cool down — with higher heats thanks to climate change and the urban heat island effect.

What to do: Stay inside with air-conditioning and drink plenty of fluids.

  • Check on neighbors, especially seniors and people living on low incomes or with medical conditions.
Data: Georgia Department of Public Health; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios
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